Join Date: Feb 2004
Location: New Berlin, WI, USA
Re: Goldwing or BMW LT, This must of been asked a 100X
I owned a 2004 GL1800, and now own a 2005 K1200LT. Both are excellent motorcycles, and each has it own set of quirks and issues.
Honda has far more dealerships than does BMW. My experience, however is that few Honda dealerships have service personnel with the level of expertise to work on the Wing, which is a very complicated motorcycle. BMW dealers seem to have BMW-certified technicians, for the most part.
The Wing has a weak front suspension that most owners replace with a $3,500 aftermarket kit at about 15,000 miles. The Wing has a shock absorber in one of the front forks; the other fork contains the anti-dive mechanism. The anti-dive "locks in" suspension travel when the front brakes are applied. This is a problem when braking hard over a rough surface - the result is fork pounding while braking.
The electronically adjustable rear suspension is also weak, and the (expensive) replacement of the electrohydraulic units under warranty is an issue Honda avoids if at all possible. Many owners install expensive aftermarket replacements at 20,000 miles.
The Wing lacks an electrically adjustable windscreen. Once you have ridden with an adjustable wind screen, you'll never want to be without one again, expecially in hot weather.
The Honda's body panels squeak and rattle because they are held in place with push pins, for the most part, and rub against each other. The BMW body panels are of a higher quality, and are attached with several different types of screw fasteners. There are very few body squeaks, if any.
Both motorcycles are excellent long distance tourers. My personal experience is that a 500 mile day on the Wing left me feeling beat up and tired. A 500 mile day on the LT leaves me eager to ride another 100 miles. The Wing is far more reactive to cross winds than is the LT; riding in a heavy cross wind is a challange on the Wing and far less so on the LT.
Subjectively, the LT is a far more enjoyable bike in the twisties. I've seen the videos of Yellow Wolf riding his Wing on The Dragon, and admire his ability. I think it represents what any rider could do, provide he or she had hundreds of practice runs with a Wing or an LT. Also, I think YW is a racer, so there is a higher level of expertise. It would be an error of judgement for any prospective Wing buyer to watch the videos and think he or she coud get the same results.
Fuel mileage is, I think, a false issue when buying a big touring bike. If mileage is really the issue, then buy a much smaller bike that gets far better mielage. Or for the price of either a Wing or an LT, buy a Corrola or a VW diesel.
Inside my 60 year old body is a 35 year old brain wondering what the hell happened.
2005 Suzuki Burgman